Tackling No-Shows at Your Restaurant

At present, it may not seem like we’ve come a long way as a country in fighting the coronavirus. In fact, we’re experiencing an uptick in cases nationwide. Restaurants are still cautiously keeping their doors open, however. Operating at limited capacity, offering contactless pickup, and face mask requirements are just a few of the ways the food service industry is doing its part in slowing the spread of the virus. Let’s discuss tackling no-shows at your restaurant.

Many restaurants are now also requiring reservations as a way not only to control the amount of patrons dining at once, but to help with contact tracing. Requiring reservations sounds like a perfect plan, but anyone in the industry will tell you how painful they can be. Reservations are great—if the customers show up. But what we like to call “no shows” are horrible even when the nation isn’t experiencing a global pandemic. A no-show these days can mean a big-time loss of revenue, plus it’s terrible news for your staff. Today we’re talking about ways to tackle this terrible scenario.

Simplify Canceling

Pre-COVID-19, no shows at a restaurant may have been annoying—but there was always the opportunity to fill empty tables with walk-ins. Nowadays a reservation requirement means that a no-show equals a direct hit to your bottom line. One way to combat this? Make it simpler for guests to cancel their reservations. If you have an online reservation system in place, it should be easy for customers to cancel without having to pick up the phone. Better yet, allow them to do it via text—we’re all constantly on our phones anyway. The quicker and simpler it is to cancel a restaurant reservation, the more likely it is a customer will not become the dreaded no-show. And the good news is that their spot can now be freed up for someone who really wants to dine out.

Additionally, if someone chooses to call and cancel their reservation, make sure to thank them for giving you a heads up. Many consumers don’t know how detrimental it is to a restaurant when no-shows happen. Opening their eyes to the gratitude you have for their communication is the best way to help spread the word.

Arrival Windows

Your cable technician and delivery person offer arrival windows for their services, but what about restaurants? Give your guests a small window, 15-20 minutes or so, during which they can show up for their reservation and not be considered a no-show. Meetings run late, traffic backs up, life happens—and all of these factors can contribute to guests not showing up at their designated time. If they know they have 15 minutes to spare, that could very well mean the difference between bailing entirely and filling a table.

Deposit Requirements

No one bats an eye when making a hotel reservation that requires a deposit. In these trying times, give this method a shot at your restaurant. A small deposit, collected when the reservation is made, can go a long way in guaranteeing your guests will show up. Put this deposit toward their bill so there is no money lost, and make sure it’s communicated well that the deposit is refundable if they contact you to cancel. No show, no refund.